[Cenlis, Kenlis, from Ir. Cenannas].
Several towns in Ireland and one in Scotland bear this name, but the one most often denoted is the market town and former monastic site [Ir. Ceanannus Mór, head fort] in Co. Meath, about 55 miles NW of Dublin. Home of the celebrated treasures of early Christian Ireland, the Book of Kells and the Crozier of Kells. Although the founding date of the monastery here is not known, it enters history about 804 after the successive sackings of Iona and the massacre of the community caused the division of the Columban or Celtic Christian Church. The monastery is cited in many narratives, e.g. Esnada Tige Buchet [The Melodies of Buchet's House], in which Eithne Tháebfhota lies with Cormac mac Airt near here to conceive Cairbre Lifechair. The next best-known Kells is the village in Co. Kilkenny, site of many an important Norman settlement.
See Máire Herbert, Iona, Kells and Derry (Oxford, 1988).